With several players on the board that would have addressed other areas of need, the LA Chargers made a surprise selection at 79 by taking Baylor safety JT Woods. Woods was not on many fans' radar, with draft pundits tabbing him as a fourth-rounder before the draft.
As we see in every single draft, all it takes is one team to love a prospect and take them earlier than their pre-draft expectations. The Chargers obviously like what they see out of Woods, who offers depth in the secondary with some really intriguing coverage skills.
Woods is far from a refined prospect and will take some developing at the NFL level. Most notably, Woods is going to have to work on his tackling and his run defense. However, as a nickel/dime piece in the secondary that potentially plays some cornerback, those are holes that don't need to come along right away.
This pick was not as universally loved by Chargers fans as Zion Johnson was in the first round but the reception still seems to be mostly positive.
Chargers Twitter reacts to the Bolts taking JT Woods at 79:
A lot of fans are pointing to how this opens up Derwin James to be more of a gadget role-player in the defense next season. We all know James it at his best when he can move around this defense and if this allows the team to do that with Woods' speed then it will be a good thing.
There was one big name that was still on the board at 79 that was projected to be a first-rounder before the draft: Nakobe Dean. Dean fell because of injury concerns and while linebacker is not a big need for the team, some fans still wanted to see the team take the risk and take the best player available in Dean.
Perhaps the biggest criticism of the selection is that the team could have potentially gotten Woods in the fourth round and taken another prospect at 79, whether that be Dean, interior defensive lineman DeMarvin Leal, wide receiver Calvin Austin, or any of the corners who the team could have taken.
Was the pick early based on pre-draft expectations? Yes. But there is no way of knowing if Woods would have lasted to the Chargers in the fourth round and for all we know, one of the receiver/interior defensive line prospects who the Bolts like will end up falling to them instead.
Would I have personally taken DeMarvin Leal or some of the other prospects ahead of Woods? Yes, yes I would have. But the Chargers obviously rated Woods higher than those players and if we are going to trust in Brandon Staley we have to trust in this pick.